Quad Cities & Beyond


With ice-out in an ice fishing season that almost wasn’t in parts of our QC area, we do have the beginnings of a good year. For starters, we’ve had a couple of years when the spawn was almost perfect so we now have larger-than-usual year-classes of adult fish. With the good numbers, they’ll be competing more aggressively for food. The other good news is that the spawning period was also good for baitfish, so they too should be feeding aggressively. This year and 2018 should be especially good for walleyes, stripers, drum, most bass and catfish, so get your tackle box ready and get out there for a season of fun.

Carbon Cliff
After a lackluster ice fishing season with almost all ice tournaments canceled, the walleyes are now in below the dams and in Sylvan Slough biting on minnow-tipped jigs and small-jointed lures. Panfish are taking worms and/or minnows in the Hennepin at Colona, Geneseo and Milan.

The catfish are really coming on below the dam, in the current and almost everywhere else. They’re taking gobs of red worms and ‘crawlers, and the bite is aggressive. At the end of the ice period when it was moving out, a 47-pound catfish was taken between Oregon and the Byron nuclear plant.

As the ice moved out of the Canal behind the shop, the bluegills and crappies were going crazy, and on sunny days the bite continued to improve. Best baits have been waxworms, red worms and small minnows. The walleyes are biting below the rollers off Davenport while the bass are beginning to hit around structure on the canal.

On Lake Clinton, there has been a growing crappie bite on smaller soft plastics and small minnows. The blue and channel cats—true to form—are back at Powerton and biting best on either chicken livers or shad. As the water warms, the bite should only get better.

Rock Island
With all of the local ice fishing tournaments canceled a month ago, the panfish are biting in Sunset, in the canal and all backwater areas. They’re taking all of the usual baits plus the Berkley baits, especially in the brighter Pink or White. Boat fishermen are taking walleyes against the Arsenal dam in Sylvan Slough or below the rollers in Davenport, and below the Muscatine dam. While anchored boats do well working minnow-tipped jigs, the trolling boats, using Rapalas or small-jointed Rapalas, are taking the larger fish.

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Sterling-Rock Falls
Panfish have been biting on worms, waxworms and small minnows. Catfish are taking worms, chicken liver and stink baits. Below the Bellevue dam, there’s been a very good walleye bite on minnow-tipped jigs and Rapalas.

This year, the last of ice-out was in the LeClaire Canal, and panfish are still there and biting on worms, tiny plastics, Berkley Floating Salmon Eggs and waxworms. This is a tricky place to fish—for some reason the panfish hold to pockets and you have to troll up and down the riverside shoreline to find the better spots. The walleyes have moved in, and in numbers below both the LeClaire and Davenport dams. The spot at the end of the Hampton earthen dam is a great one for walleyes now, carp and stripers as the water continues to warm through March.

Credit Island
With the walleyes biting below the rollers, most of the customers are buying larger minnows, jigs in several colors and Rapalas or other trolling lures. In West Lake, the panfish are biting all day long, but late afternoon at just off the fishing pier, and the launch ramp, have been the best locations for this time.

When the water is clear and we go a couple of days without heavy rain, there are lots of saugers in the tailwaters. On some days you can catch as many as you want. When the water level changes or muddies up, the saugers disappear. Panfish, including ring perch, have been biting this spring on G and N’s Lures the TN Krazy—like “crazy.” This is a lure made in Dubuque and has become really popular this year on the Upper Mississippi.

Next month, there will be several bait shops reopening for the spring and summer. We should have an expanded view of where to go, what to use and what you can catch. Also, the shows this year were been better than ever for finding items, with tackle boxes already bursting so they won’t close. So, you guessed it—I have a new soft tackle carrier.